For those that advocate for the mental health of others, you can consider yourself a hero. The stigma around mental illness is very strong in the USA, and many people who struggle with them have no voice to speak for themselves. It can be exhausting to constantly fight through misinformation and outright lies that can cause serious harm to the ones you love and care about.
However, as they say, you can’t pour water out of an empty cup. You can only give so much of yourself away until you risk burning out. You may even begin to feel anxious, or even depressed over the state of the world and worry over loved ones directly affected by it.
But how do you just ‘stop’ for a while? How do you recharge? How can you even rest when others are struggling just to get through the day? It is easier than you think, and here are some helpful tips to look after your mental health.
Disengage From Media
You may be tempted to scroll through online news sites or watch television, getting angrier at the injustices you see. Stop! Put down your phone, shut off your tv and computer, and completely disengage from media. It is not healthy or productive to keep yourself in a constant state of stress. Instead, take some time to relax away from the worries of the world. Spend an hour in the sunshine and read a book. Play your favorite video game. Pet some cats. Anything that will give your brain a break from constantly stressing. Take daily breaks where you stop and just relax, you may find yourself more rejuvenated than you think.
Accept That Change Is Slow
It’s frustrating to sit and watch politicians bicker back and forth over a particular bill you support. It may seem like a no-brainer to pass the laws you advocate for, but the wheels of our government turn slowly. Things need time to make it through all the checks and balances, sometimes being passed back and forth, which can takes years. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and expecting things to immediately get better only sets someone up for disappointment.
A loved one actively struggling is also hard to deal with. You want them to start feeling better right away, but the treatment takes time and care, and going too fast can cause harm to the patient. Sitting and waiting as your loved one struggles are hard to do, even when you are there to actively help them.
Instead, celebrate the little victories. Celebrate when someone you love decides to check into treatment. Celebrate when a protest goes successful. Any small change you can see is something to be held and cherished. You may not be able to change the country overnight, but the little things you do still matter, and sooner or later, you will begin to see results.
Take Care of Your Own Mental Health
With all the advocating you do, sometimes you may forget to look after your mental health. If you feel stressed, depressed, or anxious, it’s a good idea to stop and look into options for yourself. Sometimes that can mean scheduling a few appointments with a therapist to discuss your feelings and learn coping skills. You can also be sure to get good, restful sleep to give your brain time to recharge. If you have a diagnosed mental disorder, be sure you keep up with any appointments or medications you have. Remember, you are not only fighting for other people, you are also fighting for yourself.
Diet and Exercise
By making sure you eat a good healthy diet you are making sure your body has the energy and vitamins it needs to run smoothly. Exercising not only keeps you healthy, but it’s also a great reliever for stress and depressive symptoms. By keeping on top of your physical health, your mental health will boost its health.
You Are Not Just an Advocate
You are also a person, with unique wants and needs. It’s easy to focus on one thing and make it the center of your life. Choosing something like advocacy for those that cannot speak for themselves is indeed a noble thing to do. However, it can’t be the only thing you do. You are not just an advocate, you might be a person who loves trainspotting, or likes to garden. Making one thing your entire personality is not healthy and can negatively skew how you see the world. Advocacy should not be an obsession, it is how you express your love for those often shunned by society. Be sure you are you, not only just an advocate.
It’s Okay to Take a Break
Sometimes everything becomes too much, and you need to take a step back to think things through. That is perfectly okay and even expected as a healthy thing to do when becoming overwhelmed. When advocacy begins to absorb all aspects of your life and starts to impact it negatively, it’s time to take a break. Step back and take a rest. Everyone deserves to rest, no matter how much work you do. The fact you care about people earns you rest, so be sure to take them when needed.
With these in mind, you should now know how to take care of yourself. Advocacy can be compared to something stressful like a job. Every worker needs a break or they start to lose productivity. That is why people are given days off. Take a day off yourself to recharge, and you will find yourself much healthier when jumping back into the fray.
Advocating for those that struggle with a mental illness can be stressful. Going to protests, writing letters, and even caring for a loved one who needs help managing their disorder can quickly burn someone out. At Acera Health in Cosa Mesa, California, we have staff and materials on hand to help keep you healthy and educated. There is no shame in asking for help when caring for others. It doesn’t make you weak. It just means you are a human being who is worthy of support and help when you need it. If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental illness, or just needs someone to point you in the right direction for help, call (949)866-3461 today. Our highly trained staff is waiting to answer any questions you may have as well as help you and the ones you love to live the best lives you can.